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Bush and HighTide collaborate in Pussy Riot support

Published 2 October 2013

HighTide Festival Theatre and the Bush theatre are the latest theatremakers to show their support for jailed political activists Pussy Riot with two staged performances of Nadezhda Tolokonnikova’s shocking open letter to take place next week.

HighTide’s Artistic Director Steven Atkinson will direct the readings of Tolokonnikova’s letter, which was released to the press last week and outlined the “slavery-like” conditions she is enduring as a prisoner of Russia’s Penal Colony No 14, in a two-night event entitled Pussy Riot: Hunger Strike at the Bush theatre.

As a result of these conditions, Tolokonnikova, who was sentenced to two years imprisonment after she and two other members of the political band were charged with “premeditated hooliganism”, announced in the letter that she would embark on a hunger strike in protest. Newspapers today reported her nine-day protest has come to an end following her deteriorating health and move to a prison hospital.

Award-winning theatermaker Stacey Gregg will perform the open letter, which will be followed on both evenings by platform events with guest speakers. Explaining why the Bush theatre felt they had to do something to respond to Tolokonnikova’s shocking account of her treatment, the venue’s Artistic Director Madani Younis said: “The conditions Nadezhda and her fellow prisoners have and continue to endure as illustrated in the open letter and her conviction to bring about change are powerful and provocative… The letter itself is a clarion call, an important and urgent expression of protest, and the decision to share it aloud through performance is one we wanted to support. Stacey Gregg is the perfect theatremaker to give this letter voice and we are proud to collaborate with HighTide in support of Nadezhda and Pussy Riot.”

Director Atkinson, added “Reading Nadezhda’s letter I, like everybody I’ve spoken to, was struck by her bravery to go on hunger strike and appalled by the conditions she and her fellow prisoners endure. But I was also taken by the literary achievements of her writing, and I trust that as performed by Stacey Gregg, it will be a powerful piece of theatre and one we’re proud to collaborate with the Bush on creating.”

Pussy Riot: Hunger Strike takes place on 8 and 9 October. Tickets are free but must be booked in advance. Visit the Bush theatre’s website for full details.

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